Andy Ammons

Andy Ammons
Andy Ammons

Associate Professor of Biology

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What drew you to want to teach at GC?

I attended a small, liberal arts Christian college (very much like Goshen) as an undergraduate student, and the experience changed my life. After experiencing life at large research university campuses as a graduate student and post-doctoral scholar, I knew that I wanted to teach in a collegiate, nurturing environment. GC provides that opportunity, and also allows me to teach many aspects of biology I am interested in – behavior, genetics, entomology, molecular biology and neurobiology.

What do you love most about teaching GC students?

GC students have a rare quality, even among all other students attending liberal arts schools. Not only are they interested in a broad-based, life-skill oriented education (and very prepared for the challenges of that education), but they also seek to serve society in a way I have never seen in students at other schools. GC students are also often very self-aware, having both a keen ability to be introspective and a fervent compassion for the world at large.

What excites you about biology?

There is no way I can do justice to the true enormity of the field of biology, or the passion it inspires in me in just a few sentences, but I will try. Biology is the story of our past, in the evolution of life on earth, and also our future – through advances in medicinal genomics, nano-biotechnology and ecological restoration. It is the story of who we are and why we are the curious creatures that we are. But it is also the trillions of stories of all the organisms we share our planet with, plants and animals, bacteria and cells, fungi and viruses. To be able to share these stories with students, to glimpse the fingerprints of God in nature, is truly an honor and a privilege.

What do you enjoy doing outside of your academic work?

I enjoy beekeeping and gardening, although these activities often intersect with my academic work. I also enjoy spending time with my wife, Tara, and my children, Lily, Sam and Eva. They are already growing up so fast that we try to vacation and be with them as much as possible. I also enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction and spending time in the water at the Goshen Dam Pond, Lake Webster, or Gulf Coast when I get a chance.

How does the college’s vision connect or shape your teaching or work?

The college’s vision, as embodied by our core values, closely aligns with my own personal values and teaching. I believe in global peace, a Christian witness and the value of a college education. Having lived and done research myself as an undergraduate for the USDA in Montpellier, France, I also identify with the value of an intercultural experience like GC’s Study-Service Term.

How do you strive to make peace through your work and life?

I try to make peace in the little moments each day, working to nurture field flowers and honey bee hives in the restored prairies on campus and at Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center. I like to work with children at the Goshen Library and local schools, teaching about insects and nature. I also find peace in my research, trying to understand how and which genes influence behavior in honey bees.

Is there anything else you would like students to know about you?

When you take one of my classes, you never quite know what is going to happen. I like to do a lot of demos, show YouTube videos and have other activities interspersed with lecture. So you never know if I am going to pull out and handle a giant tarantula, have a balloon-blowing contest, show a video of a drunk bee, or have class outside in the rain (all of which I have done before)!